Clean Hotel Policy

A Resolution Amending the Winona County Travel Expenses and Reimbursements Policy and Implementing a Clean Hotel Policy

Whereas, Winona County spends significant resources to deal with the impact of sexual and domestic violence through Community Health, Human Services, law enforcement, and other departments and partner organizations, and,

Whereas, instances of sexual and domestic violence could be reduced by changing the social norms and educating people on the negative social impact of these activities, and,

Whereas, Winona County can be a leader in prevention efforts to reduce the instances of sexual and domestic violence by reducing exposure to, and not utilizing businesses that provide services such as in-room adult pay-per-view pornography which studies show correlates to sexual and domestic violence, and,

Whereas, the use of Winona County taxpayer dollars in support of businesses that provide such services does nothing to help prevent the cost to taxpayers, dollar-wise and the negative social cost, of dealing with instances of sexual and domestic violence.

Now Therefore, Be It Resolved the the Winona County Board does hereby adopt the amended Travel Expenses and Reimbursements Policy (Section 3.08) to include the attached language, and,

Be It Further Resolved, that the Policy intent to reduce and eliminate business relations with businesses that provide in-room adult pay-per-view pornography shall extend to all Winona County purchases and not be limited to reimbursements, and,

Be It Further Resolved, that all organizations and entities of which Winona County, its agents or employees, are members shall contact those organizations and entities that continue to host events at businesses that provide in-room adult pay-per-view services including, but not limited to, the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) and request that future events be scheduled at businesses that do not offer said services.

Adopted September 7, 2010 by the Winona County Board of Commissioners.


Winona County Clean Hotel Travel Policy

Policy:  Travel Expenses and Reimbursements                       Section: 3.08

Winona County Personnel
Policies and Procedures                                                                                            Page: 1 of 7  
Date Approved by the County Board: 12/2/08
Supersedes Policy Dated: 11/01/05


C. Reimbursable Expenses

3. Lodging Expenses
Following section a. it shall read:
b. Lodging should be billed to the County whenever possible.  Employees who incur expenses for approved lodging will be allowed actual reasonable costs for lodging.  Authorized personnel are expected to use good judgment in incurring lodging costs.  Authorized personnel should obtain the government rate where possible when making lodging arrangements.  Reimbursement for lodging costs is always based on the single room rate. When traveling for Winona County business authorized personnel (Winona County employees, Winona County officers, and persons eligible for reimbursement by the County of Winona) will be reimbursed only when staying at hotels that do not offer adult pay-per-view pornography in their sleeping rooms.
It is possible that in some instances (particularly while traveling out of state or attending certain functions which “require” on-site attendance), pornography free rooms may not be readily available. If a preferred site is not available to an employee within a reasonable distance from the business activity or the cost of the preferred site is more than 15% above the cost for comparable services at a non-preferred site, the employee must document these reasons for staying at a non-preferred site and approval must be granted before reimbursement can occur. Additionally, if a particular function “requires” on-site attendance at a non-preferred site, the employee must document these reasons for staying at a non-preferred site and approval must be granted before reimbursement can occur.

c. remains as current policy language.


Clean Hotels Memo to Winona County Staff

From:                           Duane Hebert
Sent:                            Thursday, September 09, 2010 8:30 AM
To:                                 All County Users
Subject:                       Clean Hotel Policy
Attachments:                        3.08 revised language 9-2010.doc; Pol308 0910.doc

At Tuesday’s County Board meeting a revised policy was adopted related to reimbursement for staying at hotels that offer adult pay-per-view pornography.  Attached is the portion of the policy that was amended, and the entire travel reimbursement policy as adopted.  The policy goes into effect immediately for all new hotel reservations and overnight stays.  Reservations already made do not need to be changed.

There have been several comments and questions related to this new policy.  Some people have suggested that this is a violation of employee’s rights.  Others have suggested that this is forcing morality on others.  Other comments have suggested that this will do no good and will only create more problems for arranging accommodations.  The reason for the adoption of the policy is related to helping prevent activities that the County spends significant time, energy, and effort dealing with after they occur.

Law Enforcement, County Attorney, Human Services, Community Health, and the court system all use tax dollars to deal with the short and long-term effects of sexual and domestic violence.  Sheriff Deputies, Dispatchers, Jailers, Case Managers, Social Workers, Attorneys, Public Health Nurses, Victim Witness Coordinator and other County employees deal with the perpetrators and victims of sexual and domestic assault on a regular basis.  I’m sure many of them have horror stories from dealing with individuals who are the victims of such occurrences.  Significant dollars are spent dealing with these issues, but little is done to help prevent them from occurring in the first place.

There is a correlation between access to pornography and incidents of domestic and sexual assault, just as there is a correlation between smoking and lung (and other) cancers, and driving while impaired and motor vehicle accidents.  Not everyone who smokes gets cancer, and not everyone who drives impaired gets into an accident, and not everyone who accesses porn commits acts of sexual or domestic violence, but the chances of these things occurring increases due to smoking, driving while impaired, and accessing pornography respectively.  It is this correlation that can  be impacted through the prevention of access to pornography and changing the acceptance of pornography in our society.

The Minnesota Department of Health maintains a list of hotels throughout the State of Minnesota that do not offer in-room pay-per-view pornography.  It contains over 480 hotels and is updated on a regular basis.  It is said that 75% of the hotels in the state do not offer such services.  A copy of the list will be distributed to the departments or it can be accessed through Personnel or Administration.

The policy does have an exception for “host site” locations.  Many association meetings, conferences, and trainings are held at a central location and are exempted from this policy.  In the event the host site does offer these services, please bring this to the attention of the host of the event or to Administration so that we can contact the host and request that they either move future events to another facility, or request that the facility drop such services.  The MN Dept. of Health has already made this request of facilities throughout the state which have eliminated these services.

If you need assistance when making reservations, please contact Personnel or Administration.  We are happy to assist by contacting hotels to determine policy compliance and making reservations.  Many of the overnight stays for meetings, conferences, and trainings occur at the same location every year or on a rotating basis.  This will make it easier to identify which facilities do and do not comply with this policy.  Hotels reservations for last minute, unexpected, or out of state travel (e.g. inmate transfer, inclement weather, etc.), may need special consideration.  Administration should be contacted for these unique circumstances.

This policy alone will not prevent sexual and domestic violence, but this effort is consistent with other prevention efforts Winona County is implementing.  It seems prudent to put greater emphasis on preventing negative things from occurring rather than spending all our energy, effort, and dollars only dealing with them after they occur.

I look forward to a smooth implementation of this policy without too much inconvenience.  I am willing to provide whatever assistance is needed, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Winona Count y Administrator

Click here for a listing of the Minnesota Clean Hotels


County considers ‘clean hotel’ policy

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Posted in Local, State-and-regional on Sunday, September 5, 2010 12:00 am Updated: 10:37 am.

Reprinted with permission

Winona County employees may soon be restricted from staying in hotels that offer pay-per-view pornography.
County commissioners Tuesday will consider adopting a “clean hotel” policy. The guideline would prevent county employees from staying in lodging establishments that offer pornography services, though the policy does have several specific exceptions.

The policy also calls for the county to request that the Association of Minnesota Counties adopt the rule.
The move is targeted at reducing sexual and domestic violence, which studies have linked to pornography, according to a county-issue paper on the subject.

“In and of itself, this policy is not a cure-all,” the document reads, “but it is an important effort to help prevent a social disease and its related costs to the public.”

The state of Minnesota spent $221 million in 2006 on costs related to sexual violence, according to county documents. That total did not include costs related to domestic violence. Meanwhile, local tax dollars support several county departments directly impacted by these crimes.

“It is logical to assume that prevention of certain criminal activities would reduce the costs of providing these services,” the issue paper states. “Prevention would also prevent the much greater social cost to the community.”
Using Winona County taxpayer dollars to support those businesses does not help address the problem, a proposed county board resolutions states.

Many county employees routinely travel as part of their duties, County Administrator Duane Hebert said, though travel totals were not immediately available Friday. Training and certifications for social workers, law enforcement officials and other employees often require they spend the night in a hotel, he said.

In those circumstances, employees would typically be reimbursed only if they choose a hotel that does not offer pornography, according to a draft county policy. More than 480 hotels in Minnesota meet that criteria, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The no-pornography rule would not apply if a hotel is the “host site” for a conference the employee is attending or if staying at a pornography-free site would cost more than 15 percent over another hotel.



Stewart Shaw

Stewart Shaw / Community columnist | Posted: Sunday, Sept. 21, 2010

County hotel policy is both ‘clean’ and good

In his editorial, “Hotel ban meant well, missed mark,” Darrell Ehrlick wrote that in approving the clean hotels policy, Winona County Commissioners expressed a “good sentiment” and had the “best of intentions,” but had practiced “poor government.”

Ehrlick questions the involvement of the county in what he considers a “boycott,” especially if, like this one, the boycott is based on a moral issue.

It is important at the outset of any discussion of the wisdom of approving a clean hotels policy that we are clear about what it does and does not do.

This one says simply that except in special circumstances, which are described in the policy, the county will not reimburse its employees if they stay in hotels that offer pay-for-view adult movies.

It does not say that employees cannot watch pornography. It does not say that they cannot stay in hotels that sell porn viewing. It says only that if they do, they will not be reimbursed for their lodging expenses.

One of the goals of the policy is to help in some small way to reduce the rising cost of health care. Sexual and domestic abuse are now recognized both by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Winona County Public Health Department as public health issues. In a publication entitled “The Costs of Sexual Violence in Minnesota,” the Department of Health estimated that the cost of sexual abuse in the state in the year 2005 was almost $8 billion.
Loss of employee efficiency, work absences, mental health therapy counseling, unwanted pregnancies and other effects of sexual abuse were used in calculating this figure. On a per capita basis, Winona County’s share of that cost is in the neighborhood of $80 million.

Another goal of adopting the policy is to reduce the involvement of county government in dealing with sexual and domestic violence and abusive acts.

County Administrator, Duane Hebert, wrote to “all county users” in a recent memo that “the reason for the adoption of the policy is related to helping prevent activities that the county spends significant time, energy and effort dealing with after they occur.”

The state Department of Health has developed a website that lists all of the hotels that offer pay-for-view adult movies, and those that don’t.

Ehrlick implies that it is inappropriate for government, and since it represents all of us, the public, to act in any meaningful way to contain the influence of pornography. Presumably governmental units may still pass toothless resolutions opposing immoral practices, but may not take effective action on behalf of the commonweal.
As individuals we are left to express our regrets and wring our hands, but denied the legitimacy of collective effort to confront the damage that porn inflicts on our society, and to reduce its costs.

Pornography viewers expect to see people being dealt with in ways that make them victims. While it may be true that the actors who are paid to be photographed or filmed consent to being treated in the way they are, the activities and relationships that are depicted usually represent people being abused. Purveyors of porn respond to the demands of the market.

In a 2007 report, “Analyzing the Pornographic Text: Charting and Mapping Pornography Through Content Analysis,” researchers Robert Woznitser, Ana Bridges, and Erica Scharrer analyzed 50 films randomly selected from the top 250 grossing pornographic films of that year. Their research revealed that 90 percent of the activities in contemporary pornography were physically and/or verbally aggressive.

Is there really any relation between watching porn and acting out what is seen in violent and abusive ways?
Ehrlick argues “the conclusion that just because someone watches pornography means that person will become sexually violent or aggressive” requires “several large leaps of logic.”

His point is true only if one is thinking of deductive reasoning. Just as there is no certainty that an individual who smokes will get lung cancer, so there is no “proof” that someone will commit sexually violent or aggressive acts if he watches porn. But as in all conclusions based on empirical evidence, it is inductive, not deductive, logic that is used.
Research examines the behavior patterns of large groups of porn viewers, and compares their conduct with people who do not view it. Just as smokers are at greater risk of getting lung cancer than nonsmokers, so porn viewers are more likely to act violently than those who do not watch porn.

There are, of course, many reasons why people act abusively. Watching pornography is one of them. Research has shown correlations between pornography use and an increased risk of violence against women and children. Based on the evidence he found, researcher Edward Donnerstein concluded that “the relationships between particularly sexually violent images in the media and subsequent aggression … is much stronger statistically than the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.”

The first laws that banned smoking in public places were passed in localities, much like Winona County, by governmental boards who took seriously their responsibility to protect members of the public that they represented, and had the courage to take meaningful action, which would in some small measure make their community a more healthy and safer place in which to live.

Just as members of these boards are now honored, the Winona County commissioners deserve our respect and support, not only for their good intentions, but also for acting to prevent violence and abuse. Their good governing merits our commendation.

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Posted in Opinion, Editorial on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 12:15 am Updated: 7:18 am.

Reprinted with permission

Clean Hotels policy helps women

By LORI WOODWARD Executive director, Women’s Resource Center | Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 12:05 am

I attended the Winona County Board meeting and watched the presentation on the Clean Hotels initiative by the Winona County Sexual and Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Project, of which I am a member.

I was impressed with the reaction the county commissioners had on the need to pass a policy that sees pornography as harmful to women (and children).

It is exciting we all live in the first county in not only the state, but the country, to adopt a proactive approach to the prevention of violence against women and children by adopting the clean hotels policy.

The Women’s Resource Center has two main functions: prevention and intervention.

When the WRC works with women and children who have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence in their lives, we intervene by assisting with food, clothing, shelter, medical needs, and help in the criminal justice system.
The most disturbing aspect of this work is hearing the horrific stories of how women and children are sexually abused. Many stories involve actions and mannerisms that are now becoming normalized by society. Sexually violent material (pornography) is easily available to all through the Internet and television. The Gender Violence Institute identifies pornography as “sexually explicit material that objectifies and exploits its subjects (predominantly women and children) while eroticizing domination, degradation, and/or violence.”

In addition, the Minnesota Department of Health states, “Pornography exposure also appears to negatively influence the welfare of women in everyday, nonsexual circumstances. Repeated exposure to pornography fosters the acceptance of the notion that women are subservient to men and promotes an adversarial, distrustful relationship between the sexes.”

Even more disturbing is the new June 2010 statistic reported by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota that 1 in 3 Minnesota women will be affected by sexual violence at some time in their lives. This is a clear indicator that as a community we need to be concerned and need to be involved with prevention efforts by engaging in legislative and policy changes.

I am continually asked how we can make a difference and keep our community safe. We know there is a definite correlation between domestic and sexual violence and the consumption of pornography.

Thank you, Winona County Commissioners, for adopting this policy and being the first county in the U.S. to do so.
Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Opinion, Letters on Thursday, September 30, 2010 12:05 am
Reprinted with permission



Porn ban: Winona County adopts ‘clean hotel’ policy

By Dustin Kass /

Winona County employees can no longer stay in hotels that offer pay-per-view pornography, under a policy adopted Tuesday by county commissioners.

The “clean hotel” policy prohibits county employees from staying in most lodging establishments that offer pornography services. Commissioners and community advocates said the move could help reduce sexual and domestic violence, which studies have linked to pornography.

“I think this is such a rampant problem,” Commis-sioner Mena Kaehler said. “We have to start somewhere.”
Winona County plans to formally request that the Association of Minnesota Counties adopt a similar policy. Minnesota lawmakers considered a bill this spring that would have applied a comparable rule to state employees, but it was voted down by a House of Representatives committee.

One in three Minnesota women will be sexually assaulted or physically abused in her lifetime, said Chuck Derry, co-founder of the Minnesota Men’s Action Network. “This is what we’ve accepted as a society as normal,” he said.
The state spent $8 billion in 2005 on costs related to sexual violence – three times as much as costs related to drunken driving, Derry said. Meanwhile, Minnesota hotels collected $500 million in revenue by offering pornography. Derry also referenced a study that showed a high prevalence of abuse in popular pornographic films, evidence of “the extent to which violence and aggression is eroticized in pornography.”

The new policy is a first step in reversing those norms, said Lynn Theuer of the Winona County Sexual and Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Project.

Under the rule, employees would typically be reimbursed only if they choose a hotel that does not offer pornography. More than 480 hotels in Minnesota meet that criterion, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Winona County’s no-pornography policy would not apply at hotels hosting an employee-attended conference, or if staying at a pornography-free site would cost more than 15 percent over the cost of staying at an alternative hotel.
Marcia Ward was the lone commissioner to not support the policy. She abstained from voting, saying she didn’t have enough time to gather information and public input on the item. She also questioned if the county would next need to restrict employees staying in hotels with bars or smoking rooms.

“It’s a pretty important policy change,” she said.

Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Local on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 Updated: 7:17 am.

Reprinted with permission

Chuck Derry: Clean hotel policy is long overdue step

I would like to congratulate the Winona County Board for the development of the clean hotel travel policy and resolution. This type of forward thinking leadership is critical if we are to stop the pervasive suffering of women and children plagued by the threat and reality of sexual and domestic violence.

The Minnesota Department of Health estimates 61,000 Minnesotans are victims of sexual assault per year and the economic cost to the state in 2005 was roughly $8 billion dollars.

Similar numbers of Minnesotans are victims of domestic violence each year as well. According to MDH, this violence has become endemic. That is, this level of violence has become a social norm.

Utilizing a public health, primary prevention model that focuses on changing the environment in which injury or violence occurs, we can confront the normalization of sexual and domestic violence by challenging those messages and images in society that support sexually violent, dominant and degrading behaviors.

Contemporary pornography is largely made up of this material. More than 25 years of research has established the correlation between pornography use and increased aggression toward women (and children) or the acceptance of that aggression as normal (See the Minnesota Men’s Action Network’s website). Recent advances in technology have substantially increased the volume and accessibility of this material.

It is everywhere.

Many of us have experienced the “second-hand smoke” effect of this normalization. Mainstream marketing, popular music, video games, TV programming, hotels and convenience stores have become increasingly “pornified.”
We cannot prosecute and jail our way out of this sexual and domestic violence problem. The clean hotel bill is part of a broader primary prevention effort to support safe, healthy and equitable relationships and the social environments which nurture that principle. In this way, we begin to stop this violence before it starts.

The Winona County Board, Duane Hebert, and the Winona County Sexual and Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Project provide models of leadership and opportunity for those in Minnesota seeking solutions to this overwhelming problem.

Thank you.

Derry is a member of the Minnesota Men’s Action Network: Alliance to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Opinion, Letters on Thursday, September 23, 2010 Updated: 7:32 am.
Reprinted with permission



Tex Hawkins: Hotel policy was absolutely right move

Women and children across the country have been paying with their lives for sexual and domestic violence.
Families, neighborhoods and communities have been ripped apart. Estimated costs to taxpayers in Minnesota topped $8 billion per year in 2005.

One in three mothers, wives and daughters will be molested, assaulted or raped in their lifetimes.

Many of the assaults occur during college involving alcohol or illegal drugs. Research has clearly correlated these crimes and costs with the frequency of sexual violence featured in proliferating pornographic media.

The Winona County Board made history on Sept. 7 when it unanimously adopted a clean hotels policy, which is the first in Minnesota and possibly the nation.

For the first time, tax dollars will not be used to reimburse travel expenses of employees electing to stay at hotels featuring pornography where other options are available. Most, if not all, hotels in the Winona area have already certified that they are pornography-free, and the list will continue to grow as other counties, agencies and businesses follow our lead, taking shared responsibility for this national epidemic of violence and waste.

This is not going to make the problem go away, but it’s a beginning, and it sends a message.

What we need to begin now is an extended conversation, involving schools, churches, civic organizations, clubs and community leaders. To assist with this process, a speakers bureau has been formed, in cooperation with local law enforcement, public health and social service agencies, with assistance from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Men’s Action Network for primary prevention.

Communities across the state are being linked together to deal with the violence before it happens.

As a member of “Beyond Tough Guise,” a local organization formed to call attention to the problem and challenge the societal norms that support sexual and domestic violence, I commend the Winona County Board for its courageous leadership, and I urge citizens who care about protecting their loved ones to call Lynn at (507) 454-1680 for more information and to arrange for a speaker or group discussion leader.

Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted in Opinion, Letters on Friday, September 24, 2010 Updated: 7:22 am.
Reprinted with permission


Guest view: Community must work to end violence against women

By Lynn Theurer and Joe Morse | Winona County Sexual & Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Project | Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010 12:05 am | No Comments Posted

Transforming the environment and stopping sexual and domestic violence before it starts is the mission of the Winona County Sexual and Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Project.

The project is a community collaboration of organizations and individuals committed to the prevention of domestic and sexual violence. The Winona County community can make the changes for this to be a reality.

As a community, we should view sexual and domestic violence as a “public health problem” rather than solely as a crime.

“Stop the Violence Before it Starts” is a public health model focusing on the environment contributing to harm or injury.

Many are familiar with public health campaigns to curb smoking, promote child safety seats, and remove lead poisoning objects from the environment. Changes can be made within the social environment to prevent sexual and domestic violence. This can occur by reducing the messages and images supporting the domination and sexual exploitation of women and children. Unfortunately, these messages have become mainstreamed, and even normal.

On Sept. 7, the Winona County Board adopted a “Clean Hotels” policy for its employees and business practices. This policy, a first step, recognizes that local government spends a great deal of money on holding offenders accountable and mitigating the harmful results to individuals and families that are victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults. This is a community issue.

It makes good sense to also spend our money supporting a safe, healthy, and equitable community. Indeed, the Minnesota Department of Health 2007 study noted our state of only 5.2 million people spent $8 billion due to sexual violence crimes in one year. Ironically, $8 billion per year is one of the “state deficit” figures the Legislature has stated as they struggled to balance the budget.

Any time is a good time to start preventing sexual and domestic violence. So what can you do? As we firmly believe, one person can make a change. Here are a few suggestions:

1)Speak out about preventing sexual and domestic violence, using your influence with children (boys and girls), friends and relatives, co-workers, organizations, faith communities and neighborhoods.

2) Ask about policies and practices that promote safe and welcoming environments. They can prevent various forms of sexual violence at your workplace, child’s school or faith community. Contact us if your organization would like information about a “clean hotel” policy.

3)Pay attention to messages that influence your children (magazines, TV, video games, Internet or clothing). One message may seem harmless but hundreds shape our views and can influence our behavior.

4)Contact the sponsors of sexually violent messaging and marketing. You, one person speaking out, may result in the message being stopped.

5)Pay attention to the negative influence of pornography with its changing content (more violent and degrading depictions) and its broad reach through information technology. The average age of first exposure to internet pornography is 11.

These images have profound effects on shaping gender roles. They often, by default, are the primary source of information our children receive about sexual activity. Due to advances in technology, pornography is simple to access, free and available to everyone. You can monitor Internet usage in your home.

6) Schedule a presentation on sexual and domestic violence prevention to a group to which you belong (for example, an employee group, book club, faith community, PTA).

We have a speakers bureau; call the Winona Area Public Schools Community Education Department to arrange a community presentation, (507) 494-0900.

7) Ask yourself: What am I as a dad/mom or an uncle/aunt, grandparent or community member doing to prevent sexual and domestic violence?

How can I engage my school, faith community, civic organization, co-workers, and/or neighborhood in preventing sexual violence?

All around us, there are harmful effects of domestic and sexual violence against women and the acceptance of violence in our community. This community should strive for mutual respect so everyone has a safe and violent free environment to grow and thrive in.

Join in this community effort. The Sexual and Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Steering Committee meets monthly to work towards this mission. Call anyone of us and we will provide you with dates and time.

The Winona County Sexual & Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Project Steering Committee consists of Chuck Derry, Stephanie Nuttall, Joe Morse, Sue Roehrich, Margaret Schild, Carmaine Sturino, Lynn Theurer and Lori Woodward.

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Posted in Editorial, Opinion on Friday, November 5, 2010 12:05 am
Reprinted with permsission


Bill bans state workers from hotels with TV porn

The Associated Press | Posted: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 10:00 pm ST. PAUL — Minnesota government employees are already under orders to hunt for bargains when traveling at taxpayer expense. They soon may be forced to check out a hotel’s channel guide before checking in — and stay away if pay-per-view porn is offered.

Legislators are considering a bill that would prevent state workers from booking rooms at hotels or meeting facilities where customers can order pornographic films, specifically those that link sex with violence.

“This bill is not about policing personal choices,” state Sen. Tarryl Clark, the bill’s sponsor, testified during a recent Senate committee hearing. “The bill is about taking another step in reducing sexual violence in our society.”
The St. Cloud Democrat’s bill passed the Senate panel last week, and is scheduled for debate in a House committee Wednesday.

The economic impact of the proposal is unclear. The state has more than 50,000 employees, but the Department of Administration couldn’t provide The Associated Press with a breakdown on how much employees spend on travel lodging. Clark’s bill would apply only to in-state hotels and meeting facilities.

Kathryn Potter, a spokeswoman for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which opposes the bill, said hotels should have the option to offer the films. It’s unclear how many hotels in Minnesota would be affected.

“This is an amenity that hotels provide just like they do pools or room service,” she said during an interview. “It’s something you can choose to use or not.”

Potter said its unclear how much the bill would cost local hotels, but said they likely make money from offering the films otherwise they’d discontinue the service.

The proposal was drafted after a member of Minnesota Men’s Action Network, an alliance to prevent sexual and domestic violence, approached Clark after not being able to find a “clean” hotel last spring for one of its events.
Other groups quickly signed on, including the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Executive director Donna Dunn said the legislation doesn’t target adult movies on cable channels like Showtime or HBO.

“It’s those extra services that you pay for that show degrading and body-punishing sex,” she said during an interview, reading off an eight-page list of pornographic titles she compiled from hotel lists, including “Quick and Nasty” and “Hustlers Barely Legal.”

Clark’s bill offers an exception when employees can’t find or afford a porn-free hotel, requiring they submit a written excuse and hotel receipt describing the circumstances. The bill also requires the Department of Administration to keep a directory of approved hotels to help employees plan.

Anti-porn groups say Minnesota is at the front of a movement for so-called “clean hotels.”

The Citizens for Community Values coalition, a Cincinnati-based Christian nonprofit, has created a Web site,, for people who want to find hotels that don’t offer porn. Coalition President Phil Burress said he hopes the Minnesota bill will encourage other states to consider similar legislation.

“People think we are talking about movies with a love scene, but it’s not that,” he said. “It’s the degrading, triple-X rated movies. The hard-core stuff that can really be harmful to children, women, families.”

Among the “clean” hotels listed by in Minnesota are four “clean” hotels in Minneapolis, all owned by Marriott, and five porn-free hotels in Duluth, including a Days Inn, Super 8 and a Best Western Hotel. While the chains offer pay-per-view, those individual hotels removed porn from their rooms, something Clark and bill advocates hope other hotels in the state will do.

Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Mn on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 10:00 pm Updated: 10:04 pm.
Reprinted with permission